Music is a crucial piece of my job.
I've rarely written about it (my outstanding piece on Carly Rae Jepsen notwithstanding), but I don't know if I could get through a day without listening to at least one song while I write an article or drive out to a spot news event.
It's nice to have something piped into your ears to quiet your mind while you're trying to grasp a dozen streams of information.
There's a few songs that I especially associate with my job, whether it's through the lyrics, tone or just the fact that I end up playing it a lot.
Here's a quick list of tunes that I have in the "J (for Journalism) songs playlist".
- "Ain't No Rest for the Wicked" by Cage the Elephant
For whatever reason, it always seems like the twangy opening guitar notes of this song always begin as soon as I jump in the car to run out to a fire or when we get a big tip just five or six minutes before my shift ends.
I do what I can to turn off when I'm not on, but anytime I feel the vibrating notification of getting an email on my phone, I can't help but check it in case it's that source I really need finally hitting me up.
It never ends.
(NOTE: The notification for emails on my phone is morse code for "S.O.S.")
- "Time is on My Side" by The Rolling Stones
This is unofficially my writing on a deadline song.
It's usually not played with any kind of optimism. But it makes me feel better about the crushing pressure.
- "Doom and Gloom" by The Rolling Stones
Any number of Rolling Stones song could make this list, honestly.
This one obviously makes its mark because, by and large, what constitutes news, like it or not, is horrible and sad or at least unpleasant. But it's news. And we deal with it day in and out.
"Paint it Black" could've also fit into this slot.
- "Black Chandelier" by Biffy Clyro
There's a very gritty feel to this song that is oddly calming on a drive home from a long or difficult day.
Maybe it's the lyrics about being worn out, the "drip, drip, drip" refrain, or just the imagery of a black chandelier, but coming out of the "doom and gloom," the song feels oddly understanding of what we do.
- "Golden Hill" by Tristeza
I listen to a lot of post-rock while I write so I just picked the one I last listened to for this.
Post-rock, by and large, has few lyrics and has a very calming quality to it. Because of that, it's very easy to write to.
I wrote this time-consuming series almost exclusively listening to El Ten Eleven.
The songs are also generally about five to nine minutes long, so I don't have to worry about picking a new one every few paragraphs.
- "Oh my God" by Jay Z
On the other end of the spectrum, sometimes you need something to kick you in the ass when you write.
If people see my head bobbing in the back of the newsroom and hear an especially rhythmic or fast cadence to my typing, I'm listening to something like this while I pump out a meeting story that would otherwise be putting me to sleep.
- "Get Like Me" by Childish Gambino
I've mentioned this before, but playing this song after a good day, when I've scooped someone or just done a decent job on a story, it's become a sort of ritual to play this before I leave the newsroom.
It's essentially like rewarding a kid with a cookie, except my cookie has an ominous horn beat.